Setting the right budget is an essential part of your app development project. To estimate the expenses, you need to consider many factors regarding the app’s functionality and the type of team this functionality requires. Industry-specific nuances, choice of a platform, a desired level of customisation – all these also influence app development cost.
We’ll help you figure this whole mess out, answering the most common questions and concerns you have. At MadAppGang, we’ve been developing various challenging projects and can guide you through the price differences between an MVP and a fully-featured app.
Before anything else, you should understand if you need custom development. There are many white-label solutions and app builders crafted for specific industries: with them, you can have a pre-designed template with a limited number of functions and integrations. As we argued in our post on white-labelling fitness apps, it can work for small businesses that don’t need anything more than basic functionality.
If your app can solve the users’ problem with a minimum set of standard features, you can choose white-label or app builder which usually are based on a monthly subscription. In this case, read thoroughly about what kind of support and maintenance are provided and do your research on the existing applications made on this basis: learn if they had any problems with bug fixes or app store submissions.
If, in contrast, you need an app fully tailored to your particular needs – with unusual screen types, individual designs, complex integrations with the third-party services – what you’re looking for is custom development. You need to find a team of passionate developers experienced in the field you’re interested in and cooperate with them on each phase of the process. To define custom app development cost, let’s start from how to define what professionals you need and how to find them.
The most critical thing you need to understand is that it’s always better to hire a whole team and not separate developers. A team has (to put it better, should have) a well-established working environment with a unified methodology and streamlined processes. To know exactly how many people you need to be involved, consult with development companies, explaining what features are required and how fast you need them built.
Here’s the example of a team for making a medium-complexity application:
Now, as you get the picture of who you need to hire, the ‘how’ comes to the fore. Searching for app developers, you need to evaluate their:
You can choose between hiring developers in-house and finding outsourcing companies. While the latter might be a cheaper option, the former allows for better connection and engagement.
Want to know more about the dos and don’ts of hiring developers? Wondering how to detect if the process is going right? Check these articles out:
Finally, we’ve reached the point where we’re going to discuss the exact numbers. Your app development cost will largely depend on how much each hired professional is paid per hour.
According to Codementor research, the current developer hourly rates globally are the following:
As for the platforms, there’s no significant difference between iOS and Android developer rates. For example, in the US, no platform wins in terms of bigger average salary: both iOS and Android developers earn from 70,000 to 130,000 per year depending on their level and experience.
While many companies and individual developers will estimate your project in hours, we at MadAppGang rely on sprint planning. Sprint is a finished cycle of development and an example of an iteration in the Agile methodology. You can learn more about step-by-step app development process.
If you go for a team that works accordingly to Agile, you can learn how much making an app costs based on one sprint estimation. This is the approach where you can adjust the process of development reviewing the functionality implemented at each sprint: it gives you control and flexibility but it won’t give you the guaranteed budget limit you won’t exceed. If you have a limited sum you can invest, discuss it with a team and prioritise the features that can be brought to life within your budget for making an app.
There are many categories of apps like social, travel, business, utility etc. App development cost will depend on the category greatly as the category defines the essential features and their complexity. For example, a vocabulary type of app that has static information and search without login is way simpler than a gaming app that generates teams of registered users and saves their progress.
Categories we have the most experience in include restaurants and food services, logistics and transportation, fitness, and healthcare. For the industry-specific example of price estimation, read our post on the cost of developing a healthcare app.
After you decide on your app idea, what problem it has to solve, and what category it belongs to, you need to write down all the features that you:
When you have a set of features you want to implement, prioritise them for developers to build the process starting from the essentials. How much time and money it will take depends on how demanding the features are. Let’s look at some common features with regard to their complexity:
Some expenses might not be obvious from the beginning and significantly increase your overall cost. However, an experienced team should explain those to you during the early estimation.
For example, securing your application with practices like data encryption will require an additional team member. There are also many ongoing expenses that will come after the app’s launch: regular app stores fee, charges by third-party APIs and payment gateways, bug fixes etc. Plan your budget considering that development itself may be less than half of the app costs during the first two years.
Explore the app market tendencies in your target region: how successful are mobile apps of your category on Google Play and Apple App Store? Learn how many users download similar apps on both platforms and how different monetization strategies work. For example, there could be a wider reach among Android users but more possibilities to earn money on iOS.
Considering the fragmentation of Android-powered devices, developing and testing an app for this platform is more time-consuming and costly. Moreover, Android testing emulator tends to be slower than iOS simulator. On the other hand, Apple App Store is way more strict while submitting applications, and this process may cost more than expected.
Deciding on the platform, it’s not the Android vs. iOS development process you need to consider but the audience and user behaviour. Android and iOS are dominant in different markets and utilise different monetisation strategies. For example, it’s more advantageous to build an Android app for Asian markets and an iOS app for North America. Interestingly, Australians use the platforms almost equally.
You can start developing an application on both platforms at the same time. Although, there’s a thought that it’s better to make one app first and than expand to another platform. As a 2017 Clutch survey shows, the majority of investments go to native app development.
If you do decide to make both iOS and Android applications, there are two ways: make two separate apps with different teams or adopt a cross-platform approach. With the latter option, you’ll need to find developers familiar with the latest cross-platform tools such as Flutter or React Native.
What approach is more beneficial? It’s up to you to decide but consider the following:
Reusable components on which a cross-platform approach relies allow for faster development and design and easier maintenance. A research2guidance global survey revealed that cross-platform development can save as much as 30 per cent of time, which also means significant cost savings. However, you won’t be able to make every visual and functional element unique for each platform and device. Native development can also be performed quite fast: learn how we managed to deliver an app’s MPV in six weeks.
It may work to start from cross-platform development to create an app prototype or even an MVP for certain types of apps such as marketplaces. When the app succeeds and requires expansion, transition it to the native codebase.
This is what Airbnb decided to do: React Native development allowed them to move faster as an organization and gain recognition but they realized the failure in achieving other goals and moved towards native frameworks in 2018. While they wanted to reuse the code thanks to a cross-platform approach, they ended up writing three codes and facing troubles with bug monitoring and slow initialization. Some valuable aspects of cross-platform development like a unified design system were taken by the Airbnb team as the top learnings that helped them make native apps better.
An average development cost is a quite wide range starting at $100,000 and ending with $1,000,000. Despite the variety of development and app design cost calculators, there’s no way of getting a precise estimation just based on the app’s idea, and even during the process, there can be many changes that will impact the price. To learn how much money do you need to start an app, describe your concept to us and we will take it from there.
29 October 2020 app development cost